CHERRY + DARK CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM LOAF


This is a really simple pudding you can throw together and keep in the freezer for when you have people over. It's not really a recipe, per say, but more of a serving suggestion - just soft ice cream remoulded into a loaf shape with a scattering of tasty toppings. I suppose I'm a bit biased, but I think it looks pretty awesome!










I went for simple vanilla ice cream with some finely chopped mint leaves and dark chocolate chips stirred through. First I let the ice cream thaw before mixing in the ingredients, then I filled my chosen tin half full, sprinkled a layer of frozen cherries (seriously, these things are delicious!) in it and then layered over the rest of the ice cream. It looks messy, so just pop it into the freezer for about half an hour, then you can shape it with the back of a spoon into more of a loaf shape, before topping with the rest of your ingredients. And voila! You can serve it straight from the tin in scoops or lever it out of and slice it like a cake. I recommend leaving keeping in the freezer for a few hours - preferably a few days - so that the mint really infuses the ice cream.




Other toppings to try;
Cherry and toasted coconut
Strawberry and mint
Boozy Baileys and dark chocolate

If you're on a health kick, this would work really well with one-ingredient banana ice cream too!


PIN-WORTHY


Here's something a little bit fun for a Bank Holiday Monday! Do you have Pinterest? I've been an avid pinner on and off for quite a few years now and recently reorganise all of my boards to be a bit more cohesive. Do you follow me?

Apart from the fact that it's an amazing way to gather inspiration and ideas (and it's changing all the time in what we use it for - my colleague suggested it as a tool for searching for interesting e-mail subject lines!?), I love seeing what people have re-pinned from my boards, whether they're photos from my blog or re-pinning practically a whole board - this always happens with GOOD HAIR! It's fun to see the things that people are still re-pinning even a good few years after I first pinned them myself; it's a perfect way to jog your memory about things you had forgotten about.

Here are a couple of favourites and recent re-discoveries:


 
Since I added a PIN button feature to my blog, it's been fun to check in and see what people are pinning straight from the blog. If you are curious to see what people pin from your site, you can check using this URL:
http://pinterest.com/source/yourURL without http:// or www

Here are a few favourites people have pinned from Sprunting!:




You can find all of these pins and more via my Pinterest account.

FRITTATA REMIX: tomato + pesto

I'm running the risk of sounding a bit like a broken record, but this frittata was too pretty (and tasty!) not to share. Frittatas are my favourite quick and easy supper - this meal would have been on the table in about 15 minutes, had I not made the little roast potatoes. I posted my frittata recipe here before. This one just features halved cherry tomatoes and a healthy dollop of my homemade pesto rippled through it. I'm really enjoying the longer, lighter evenings - not only does it mean I can actually write recipe posts that aren't restricted by how much food I can fit into a weekend, but I ate this one out on the balcony in the last of the evening sun! Make sure to make extra so you can have leftovers for breakfast or as a packed lunch.

MY TIPS FOR WRITING A GOOD CV



I wouldn't call myself an expert on the subject, but after going through countless CVs to recruit new people for my team, I definitely have a few ideas of my own about what makes a good CV.

Short and sweet
My CV is one page long - I've always liked to keep things succinct and I've had people comment before that they appreciated the length of my CV. Now that I've been on the other end of the recruitment process, I am completely in agreement that short is good when it comes to CVs. A one-pager shows that you can pick out the best bits of your employment history and other achievements and still sell yourself well without droning on for three pages. I have a slim column down the left side with the headings Employment, Freelance, Skills and Education. On the right-hand side, I have listed my current/previous roles with a heading and a couple of short bullet points with responsibilities and achievements. That waitressing job I had while I was at uni? I finally took it off my CV because it isn't relevant now I have experience in my industry BUT, if you're looking for your first job, anything from waitressing and paper rounds to after-school clubs can show valuable transferable skills.

Do I need a pre-header/mission statement?
While I quite like these - it's a good way to sum up who you are and what you're looking for - I don't think they are essential. If you want to have one, keep it short and to the point with a sentence about what you are looking for in your next job. Don't clutter it with things you think people want to hear like 'hard-working', 'excellent time management', etc. Anyone can make these claims and they aren't really a bonus - any employer, from a shop owner to a big accountancy firm, will want these things as standard. If they like your experience, they will want to meet you and find out these things for themselves.


Is it relevant?
Unless a job application specifically asks for it, you don't have to include a picture or information like your gender, marital status or date of birth. These things are not relevant for most office jobs; there is no need for companies to know your age as recruitment should be based on experience, but they can find this out for themselves anyway from your education dates or via LinkedIn.

What do I put in a cover letter?
Many job applications call for a cover letter, which is why I think the mission statement on a CV is a bit of a moot point. When you are writing a cover letter, tailor it to the job at hand. You can include a little about your current role, personal attributes and skills, but what employers want to know is why they should hire you and how your experience proves that you'd be an asset to their team. Try and use specific examples of achievements or times where you were faced with a challenge and how you overcame it; if you say you have good time management skills, tell them why. It's also worth tailoring the tone of your letter to the company - if it's a large corporate company, keep it professional, but if it's a media company with a reputation for being fun, you can be a little more creative with a well-placed joke. This is a perfect opportunity to show how your personality fits in with the company ethos.

Spell check and spell check again
I know this seems totally obvious, but you'd be amazed how many people make mistakes in their CV. I've seen typos, grammatical errors and even a misspelled blog link! It's worth having a second pair of eyes have a look over it - a friend might spot something that doesn't read properly, even though it's spelled correctly.

Photos from Jo's lovely Bloggers At Their Desks series.

COCO MARY


On Friday night I was invited to the re-launch of Dirty Martini in Hanover Square and given free reign on the cocktail menu. Delicious, yes, but totally lethal! The newly-renovated bar is lovely, with lots of modern art, louche '70s furniture and cosy corners, but the best part of the evening was learning how to make my favourite Peach and Wild Tea martini, which was surprisingly easy even though my cocktail-making skills proved a little lacklustre.

On Saturday I was feeling a little rough around the edges but, faced with a glut of tomatoes after an online order gone wrong, I decided to see if I could recreate the fresh Bloody Mary that I still dream about from Qunci Villas in Lombok. I know hair of the dog is meant to be a miracle cure, but I couldn't face any more alcohol so I made a virgin version I've christened the Coco Mary, mixing homemade tomato juice with all the necessary condiments and topping with coconut water for a super refreshing hit of hydration.

Making your own tomato juice tastes amazing, but you do need a lot of tomatoes, even just to make a small amount of juice, so be warned. If you are making a big batch for friends, it might end up being more cost effective to buy tomato juice, but try and get a good quality brand rather than the thick stuff everyone seems to drink on airplanes. If you find yourself, like me, with an overflow of toms, then make it yourself and you won't regret it.

For the tomato juice (makes 350ml)
20 small tomatoes
Half a stick of celery
A pinch of salt, pepper and sugar

Halve the tomatoes and place in a stainless steel pan with the celery, sugar, salt and pepper. On a medium heat, simmer for around 25 minutes until you have a soupy consistency. Don't worry about using any oil - as the tomatoes heat up they will let out quite a lot of water, so they shouldn't stick to the pan.

Pass the mixture through a colander or, if you want a completely smooth, seedless juice, through a fine sieve. Allow to cool and keep in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week.

When cooked slowly, tomatoes release the antioxidant lycopene, which has been potentially linked to preventing cancer and heart disease and apparently helps to protect your skin from sunburn (don't skip the SPF just yet though!).



For the Coco Mary (per glass)
1 part coconut water
2 parts tomato juice
A squeeze of lemon
5 dashes of Tobasco sauce
5 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
A pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Ice

Mix together all of the ingredients in a glass, adding Tobasco sauce and Worcestershire sauce to taste. I like mine quite spicy and tangy, but taste as you go to find your perfect balance. Top with plenty of ice and garnish with a stick of celery and straw! If you want a more refreshing, lighter drink, use 2 parts coconut water to 1 part tomato juice instead.


I actually prefer a Virgin Mary to a Bloody Mary and the addition of coconut water makes for a really light and fresh drink that is super-hydrating and nutritious. It kept my martini-induced hangover at bay and was satisfying enough to keep me going until lunchtime too. Enjoy any time of day, though breakfast is an obvious choice - see my favourite breakfast recipes here.

HAPPY HOME


I did a massive spring clean last month and, while I didn't quite hit my target of throwing away 100 things, I did make a big dent in unwanted stuff. I took these photos on a bright morning when I was feeling so happy just to be at home.








COMFORT EATING AT KOYA

I tried Koya - Frith's Street's Japanese udon bar - for the first time last night, which is a sad thing in itself, made all the more upsetting by the fact the restaurant is closing its doors at the end of May (facepalm).

Koya is a typical Japanese eatery, in that it serves just one thing, udon, plus a variety of small plate starters to share (or not!). The Japanese pride themselves on doing things to perfection and unlike in, say, an Italian restaurant where you're likely to eat everything from pasta and risotto to hearty stews and steaks, restaurants are usually more specialised, for example just serving ramen, tonkatsu or tempura or, as my dad genuinely once experienced, a whole  11 course tasting menu revolving around sardines. But back to the udon! 

The interesting thing about Koya is that it's perfectly suited to this mad, temperamental May weather we've been having. There are three types of dishes on offer - hot noodles in hot soup, cold noodles next to hot soup and cold noodles to be dipped in cold dipping sauce - plus sides like tempura, grilled chicken and seaweed. Wednesday was blazing sunshine and verging on sandals territory but yesterday was miserable; it poured with rain all day, my feet were soaked through the holes in my shoes and you'd be forgiven for thinking it was February, so hot noodles in hot soup proved the perfect foil to the merciless English elements. 

With just a few weeks before Koya closes its doors for good, I'd definitely recommend a visit, whether it's cold and wet or blazing hot. I'm crossing my fingers the sun will be out again before the month is out so I can go back and try those cold noodles!
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